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Monday, October 17, 2011

Governor Quinn Ready to Deliver the Death Blow?

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has reiterated his opposition to the expansion of gambling to the state's racetracks and fairgrounds yet has no problem with expanding casino gambling in the state.  In some ways, it sounds like New Jersey, but it's not.  The fact is the Governor is willing to expand gambling, just not at racetracks.  Is there a explanation which will explain this? 

Well thre is; it is all about protecting one's turf.  It seems towns that currently have riverboat gambling have formed a coalition which is opposed to slots at racetracks.  The fear being these tracks would draw off business from the riverboats which will hurt the local economies.  They urge the Governor not to allow slots at the racetracks.  Likely it is the local communities making the riverboat industry's arguments.  Unlike New Jersey where the agri-business part of horse racing is being argued, that argument has less strength in Illinois with a larger 'real' agricultural market.  To the Governor, racing may simply be too small an industry to be worried about.

If this is the Governor's final stance, there is no trailer legislation which will pass the veto session of the legislature as it took virtually every vote to get the original legislation passed.  With the refusal of allowing racing in on the slot revenue, I would not imagine many downstate legislators in the farming areas supporting any trailer legislation as would those legislators who would lose out on slot machines at the airports which Quinn also objects to.

It appears the fear of poaching the business from within the same state is becoming a big issue, especially as convenience gambling is growing.  If racing doesn't get in at the first attempt to introduce casinos, it runs the risk of being left at the altar with nowhere to go.

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